What does the Bible teach about child protection and safeguarding?

12th October 2023 | Safeguarding

The Clewer Initiative

What does God say about protecting and caring for vulnerable people, particularly children and young people?

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There are a number of Bible passages which can be used to help people develop a theology around safeguarding and caring for children and young people. Discussing these passages together could be a good way to get people thinking about our God-given responsibility.

1. Speak out for people who are vulnerable (Proverbs 31:8)

Many biblical passages call us to protect and care for those who are vulnerable. Proverbs 31:8 calls us to ‘speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable’.

2. Children are a gift of God (Psalm 127:3)

We do not have children because of our strength, education or efforts, they are God's gift to us. God has trusted us that we are able to care for them, raise them and teach them.

3. Children are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27)

Here are three implications of the fact that children have been “created in God's image”:

  • Children have intelligence like all human beings - they can think and create new things. In the past, a common view on children was that they did not understand. However, in childhood the brain is very active and learns a lot.
  • Children have a conscience and can identify good and bad and choose to do the right or the wrong. However, the brain of very young children is not yet sufficiently developed to perceive moral thoughts. They are therefore not accountable for their actions at this stage. As they grow, they recognise the moral rules of the family or community. An example of this is in 2 Kings 22:1+2 “He (King Josiah) was eight years old … and he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”
  • Children can know God and have a relationship with him. We see this in 1 Samuel 3: “The child Samuel was called by God and served him.”
Sanctity of Life

4. Children need Jesus and instruction/training from us (Proverbs 22:6)

Children need adults (mainly their parents) to instruct them and train them to know what is right and wrong and to follow God's ways.

5. Children are particularly valued by God. (Genesis 21:17, Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 18:5-6)

They have a special place in God's heart.

  • In Genesis 21:17 we read the story of Hagar and Ishmael. In her despair, Hagar decides to leave the child but “God heard the boy crying” and prepares a way out.
  • In Mark 10:13-16, we see Jesus valuing children. He defends them and shows them his favour.
  • Jesus underlines this in his words in Matthew 18:5. Jesus puts himself on the same level as the child saying “whoever receives a child in my name, receives me.“
  • We find the opposite in Matthew 18:6, where Jesus warns those who do not care for those who are vulnerable: “anyone who causes these little ones to stumble, it would be better to have a millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

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